Friday, May 23, 2014

friday link love

A sweet place for work.

Hi, friends. Sorry for the radio silence last week. I got a bit busy while out in San Francisco and with the time difference and all, I dropped the ball.

San Francisco, however frenetic my trip was, still delivered. I was doggedly determined to check out a few new places, and so, as part of research, or so I keep telling myself, I set out to b. patisserie, the morning after the conference ended, to sample their famed kouign amann. My trip to Pacific Heights was not in vain. That might have been the best piece of pastry I’ve ever eaten. I’m now told I have to sample Dominique Ansel’s, and I’m a woman obsessed. Laminated dough – it’s going to happen at some point soon.

I'm doing research in the name of laminated dough. Kouign-aman, get in my belly.

I had one of the best, and one of the priciest, meals of my life at Atelier Crenn. I’ve been following Dominique Crenn’s career for quite some time, and we knew too many people in common, so I had to go and check it out. The price-tag, and it’s a bit of a long story how that happened, snuck up on me and was a touch of a shock. This was not, by any means, an inexpensive dinner. It’s fair to say that for the rest of the month I’ll be eating peanut butter sandwiches to make up for that expense, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. While this isn’t inexpensive for me, the meal, all twenty-plus courses, with all its bells and whistles, is fairly priced. At one point of the meal, there was a play on French onion soup with an intense, concentrated three-onion broth and a gruyere gnocchi; at another part of the course had a chocolate branch lightly dusted with porcini powder. I now catch myself wondering why more chocolate doesn’t use porcini powder – they are perfect complements.

Atelier Crenn

There were other wonderful meals. The always-delightful Contigo (whose chef Brett Emerson and I were blog buddies back in the day when he had a blog, In Praise of Sardines, before his restaurant); a richly spiced meal with friends at Kin Khao. I braved San Francisco hill while out for a run with my friend Marianna – who is a serious SF runner – and made it halfway up a steep two-block hill that rendered me breathless – surviving the challenging 3.2 mile run. I say “challenging”, because hills.

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I also got to sample some ice cream. While waiting for a friend at the Ferry Building, I tried the famed Humphry Slocombe. Thanks to Instagram friends I now have half a dozen more places to try next time I’m out in SF, but if I’m going to be honest, HS was a bit of a disappointment. The ice cream was too soft, too icy, and lacked a certain pleasant chewiness to it. To each his own, I suppose, but I prefer a little bit more body to my ice cream, which perhaps might explain my deep dislike of sort serve (my husband fiercely disagrees with me on that one).

This week I was a mean, lean ice-cream-testing machine, testing and developing recipes with Ben (one of the founders of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream) ; though if we’re being totally honest, a little less lean now after over twenty five recipes. Our book deadline is fast approaching, so we’re pushing ahead with recipe testing. And I’m pushing ahead with lots of writing and research.

And lastly, I’ve been playing around with a scallop recipe that involves a butter emulsion sauce with golden raisins and capers. Stay tuned – I’m determined to get it right. And besides that, I might have committed myself to running a ten-miler in DC in October with my brother-in-law. So, uh, I think I need to start ramping up (and actually regularly running). Right? Right.

Anyway, here are some links that engaged me recently. And I hope you all have a great long weekend ahead. I’ve got book work – jealous?

Continue reading friday link love.

Friday, May 9, 2014

friday link love

On set for @chefmarcmurphy cookbook shoot. The amazing Cedric Angeles shooting. Stunning light.

Hey friends, super short links today, for which I’m sorry, but it was one of those weeks. Monday and Tuesday found me testing ice cream all day with my amazing Van Leeuwen people; on Wednesday, I was getting my “house” in order, editing recipes, catching up on other work; yesterday I spent the day on the UWS at Ditch Plains, at the photo shoot for my upcoming book with Marc Murphy (spring 2015) – that’s one of the photos from the shoot (the amazing Cedric Angeles in the background); and today, my in-laws are coming in the afternoon, making it for a shorter work day. Then, on Monday, I fly to SF for some work. SF friends whom I won’t see – please forgive me. It will be an exceedingly frenetic time, and I’m there for work, so my time isn’t quite mine. Also, I have a recipe for you, poorly photographed, but all fleshed out, of this fish stew I’ve been making for dinner once a week or so. I’d rather share it with you than not, so expect that sometime next week. In the meantime, happy weekend to all. xo, olga

Continue reading friday link love.

Friday, May 2, 2014

friday link love

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Happy Friday, friends. A busy, eventful week comes to an end. My book written with Marc Forgione is out in bookstores (hopefully) everywhere; I turned 36; and I finally ordered a new computer, since my current one is unlikely to survive an upcoming work trip. Good things all around with the exception of the upcoming bill for said new computer – minor details, right? A few links today, somewhat more entertaining than deep this week. Hope your weekend is restful and filled with what pleases you.
xo, olga

Continue reading friday link love.

Monday, April 28, 2014

“everything bagels” gougères + marc forgione book comes out tomorrow!

"everything bagels" gougeres

So, I wrote a book. And it’s coming out tomorrow. And I don’t know what else to say about it.

In January 2012, I sat down with Marc to discuss his vision for a book he agreed to write for then Wiley (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). We had been in a conversation, on and off, for months preceding, and the ice was finally moving. I was picked out of a number of writers, and here we were, signing the contract and talking about book deadlines, which, by the way, were six months away (ha!). At the time, I was in the final stage of writing the Kimchi Cookbook manuscript. Other than my work for Melissa Clark and a yet-unpublished book, I didn’t really have a resume. I was eager. I was hungry. I wanted this book.

Never, in a million years, did I think that Marc would take a chance on an unseasoned writer like myself. And when he did, I immediately did a celebratory leap around the apartment, which was immediately followed by a complete and total meltdown.How – how?!?! – was I going to write this book?

Continue reading “everything bagels” gougères + marc forgione book comes out tomorrow!.

Friday, April 25, 2014

friday link love

Finally got around to making a batch of preserved lemons. Lots of good things in here: thai chile, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, star anise. A Meyer lemon snuck in!

Happy Friday, friends! We’re having a smallish gathering of friends tomorrow, and as such, I’ve become the crazed host hell-bent committed to throwing a lovely, effortless party. Of course, effortless is never a word that should be used honestly when it comes to entertaining. It might be low stress, but if you like to cook and like to entertain, there is, of course effort involved. I’ve always pondered that word, “effortless”, when it came to throwing parties. Why do we want to aspire to effortless? I’ve always liked effort, the word and the intention, and I hope, at the very least, that even if the food is ho-hum, my effort shows.

My list was made; schedule of what to cook and when – drawn up. Easy-peasy, I thought, and of course, probably the moment I thought it, curveballs of all sizes came at me from every direction work-wise and the schedule was abandoned early on. Do you know what not crossing something off a list that’s assigned to a particular day does to someone like me? Complete and utter derailment, folks. Last night, Andrew witnessed what might be the “behind-closed-doors-meltdown” that was resolved all thanks to an awesome, new neighbor heroically saving the day with a 4-pound bag of sugar. Thanks, Amy! I’ll put together the party menu sometime next week, but not before I post a recipe I adapted from the book I wrote with Marc Forgione – due out in a few days! I’m always uncomfortable tooting my own horn, but if you are at all looking to step up your game in the kitchen, I think this book will help you get there. I’m enormously proud and grateful to have been involved in its making and as I leaf through the pages and recall all the hard work everyone put in, I’m even more excited about releasing this nearly 400-page beast baby into the wild. As many people have told me, having a baby was easier than writing a book, and this particular one was a long and uphill road, albeit an extremely satisfying one.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend! Cheers and until next week. xo, olga

PS the picture above is of preserved lemons, which I made earlier this week. I streamlined the recipe a bit and updated it with a few tips in case you’re itching to make your own. I can’t recommend homemade preserved lemons enough – totally worth the 10 minutes you spend making them and 1 month waiting.

Continue reading friday link love.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

pasta with cabbage and pancetta

Pasta with cabbage and pancetta

It was over dinner Saturday night that Franny’s restaurant cookbook came up in conversation. A woman seated next to me asked if the book was any good.

“It’s very good,” I replied.

Then I added, “Full disclosure: I worked on it, but it’s very good independent of that.”

The conversation veered in many directions through the evening – fig trees, writing, what we were eating – but my thoughts stayed with Franny’s cookbook through the night and into Sunday morning. It had been too long since I cooked from it.

I had a head of Savoy cabbage in the crisper that was patiently awaiting its fate. Time had turned its leaves more wilted than its normal veining makes it appear – and more limp, too. But cabbage is a resilient vegetable – a few days past its prime and it’s still in fighting spirit. Soups, stews, roasted wedges, cabbage is a marathon vegetable. I can’t think of a single occasion when a head of cabbage went beyond the ability to be salvaged in my house. On the other hand, I can think of countless bags of spinach I’ve forgotten about and found weeks later, way in the back of the refrigerator, the bag’s contents having liquefied itself to a foul-smelling brown liquid. On some unlucky occasions, the bags leaked and instead just removing the offensive produce, I’d spend the next hour scrubbing the refrigerator shelves.

Continue reading pasta with cabbage and pancetta.